OK, I am sure there are a lot of people who have written how to articles for cooking turkey, and maybe a few agree with my method, but this is tried and true. There are some simple, yet steadfast, rules for ensuring you have a perfectly cooked turkey. There is no need to fry it to get a wonderfully moist bird.
First step, the thaw.
Thaw your frozen turkey completely. Cooking a half thawed bird will result in a dry turkey. And ALWAYS thaw your turkey, or any other poultry, in the refrigerator. Use the following list to determine your thawing time:
The rule of thumb is about 1.5 days per 5 pounds of bird, so…
up to 10 lbs. = About 3 days
15 lbs. = About 4 days
20 lbs. = About 5 days
25 lbs. = About 6 days
I know this seems like a lot of time, but you want a fully thawed bird to work with.
Now, we prep the bird.
REMOVE THE GIBLETS AND NECK. Some, OK a lot of people forget to do this. I have, so I always double check.
Remove all of the remaining ice from inside the bird, if there is any.
Preheat your oven to 475 degrees (we will turn it down after the first cooking segment)
Now, gently separate the skin from the breasts on top of the turkey with your hands. Don’t remove the skin, just create a pocket. Melt some butter to rub into this gap between the skin and the meat. DO NOT BUTTER THE OUTSIDE OF THE SKIN. Put some spices in between the skin and meat as well if you like. I use a little sage in the butter when I melt it.
Salt and pepper the outside skin of the turkey.
Don’t stuff the turkey. Cooking your turkey with stuffing inside is a health hazard and makes it harder to get the perfect bird. Always cook your stuffing separately.
Bake the turkey!
Place the turkey in your roasting pan and into the oven UNCOVERED at 475 degrees. Let it bake for 20 minutes at this temperature.
After the 20 minutes, reduce the heat to 250 degrees and cook for 20 minutes per pound of turkey. This is where it helps to know the weight of your bird without all of the giblets and ice that were packed inside. A 20 lb. bird is usually only about 16-17 lbs. at this point.
Is it done?
Use a meat thermometer to ensure your bird is cooked to a temperature of 170 degrees when the time has expired (20 minutes at 475 + (# lbs. X 20 minutes) at 250).
Remove the turkey from the oven and let it sit, uncovered, for at least 20 minutes before you do anything with it. This step is just as critical as the rest.
Carve and enjoy!
Carve your turkey, resisting the urge to snack on it (if you can). Serve and enjoy your perfect turkey.